Most of the big issues this legislative session were tied to the state budget, which has been passed and sent to Governor Jay Nixon. That has many political pundits wondering if the last week of the 2012 session will be anticlimactic. But as St. Louis Public Radio’s Marshall Griffin tells us, there are still a few hot-button items left to fight over.
The $24 billion spending plan passed both chambers with little difficulty, but not without some complaints. State Senator Jim Lembke (R, Lemay) was not happy with language restoring a health care program for blind Missourians. He says he’ll file a constitutional objection.
With a Friday deadline looming, Missouri lawmakers finally reached a compromise on putting the final touches on the state budget.
The agreement addresses veterans’ homes, university funding and other sticking points: First, budget negotiators agreed to spread an additional $3 million among several universities, including Southeast Missouri State, and dropped a proposal to give $2 million to that school alone. Also, lawmakers will have to craft a Higher Education funding formula by the end of next year, which would be implemented in July 2014.
The Senate has made no progress on persuading Jason Crowell (R, Cape Girardeau) to stop blocking every bill in the Senate, including one to fund veterans’ homes. He says he has no objections to transferring gaming revenues from early childhood programs to nursing homes for military vets, but he won’t allow it or any other bill to advance unless the House strips more than $2 million in extra funding from Southeast Missouri State University. President Pro-tem Rob Mayer (R, Dexter) says other Senators have sided with Crowell on the issue.
Mo. House, Senate push for elimination of Sue Shear Institute
The Missouri House has approved legislation that would strip state funding from an institute that trains women for careers in politics.
The Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life is located at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and bills itself non-partisan. Its detractors, however, argue the Institute caters to Democrats - a characterization that Springfield Democrat Sara Lampe strongly disputes.
The Missouri Senate has been shut down by one Senator over which version of legislation for veterans’ homes will be adopted.
Jason Crowell (R, Cape Girardeau) and several allies tied up the Senate for nearly 12 hours Monday night and are provoking a showdown with Senate leaders. In addition to using a filibuster to block the veterans’ homes bill, Crowell is using several motions to block all bills from being debated.
“We have some issues that need to be resolved in the Senate before we move forward, and they’re gonna be resolved one way or the other," Crowell said. "I will continue to make this series of motions on anything else that we do.”
House and Senate budget negotiators resumed talks today, but still have not resolved differences over how to fund veterans homes and health care for the blind.
They agreed on numerous budget items that have garnered little to no controversy. The House won out on its proposed pay raise for state workers – those earning under $70,000 a year would get a 2 percent raise starting in July. Kirk Schaefer (R, Columbia), the Senate’s chief negotiator, says he didn’t mind accepting the House’s position on pay raises.
The state Office of Administration released figures on Wednesday that show Missouri's net revenues were up 3.1 percent through April - or the first 10 months of the fiscal year. The 2012 budget is based on 2.7 percent growth.